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Government & Law The Structure of Canada ’ s Government. What is Government?. Formal system of decision making Govt acts according to established rules and procedures – traditions Institutions carry out govt ’ s work. Foundations of Our Government. First Nations Hereditary title

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Government law the structure of canada s government

Government & LawThe Structure of Canada’s Government

What is government
What is Government?

  • Formal system of decision making

  • Govt acts according to established rules and procedures – traditions

  • Institutions carry out govt’s work

Foundations of our government
Foundations of Our Government

  • First Nations

    • Hereditary title

    • Elected leaders

    • Community leadership

    • Oral traditions

  • European Roots of Canadian system

    • British parliamentary tradition basis for federal & provincial governments

      • Representative democracy

      • Constitutional monarchy

Parliament hill
Parliament Hill

Queen of canada
Queen of Canada

Representative democracy
Representative democracy

  • Democracy – rule by the people

  • Greek – direct - eligible citizens vote o all decisions affecting society

  • Representative – elected representatives make decisions on our behalf

Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional Monarchy

  • Monarch as Head of State

  • Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Canada

  • Governor General is Monarch’s representative in Canada

  • QEII does not actually rule Canada but safeguards democracy

  • Laws cannot be ignored

Written constitution
Written Constitution

  • 1867 British North America Act (BNA)

  • Amended in 1982

    • Powers of provincial legislatures & Parliament

    • Charter of Rights and Freedoms

    • An amending formula (7/10 >50% population)

  • Unwritten constitution

    • Rules & practices that are not written but are based on 1000 years of parliamentary tradition inherited from Britain e.g.: no mention of political parties in the Constitution but important part of our system

Federal system
Federal System

  • An organization of regional governments (provinces) acting on behalf of its own residents with a central govt responsible for matters of the nation as a whole – federalism

  • Federal e.g.:

    • Citizenship

    • Defense

    • Currency

    • Residual powers – new areas that did not exist then

  • Provincial e.g.:

    • Education

    • Health care

  • Shared e.g.:

    • Agriculture

    • Environment

Municipal government
Municipal Government

  • Local, municipal provides essential services such as

    • Garbage collection

    • Sewage treatment

    • Fire protection

    • Policing

    • Water supply

    • Establishment of schools

What level of govt
What level of govt?

Parliamentary system
Parliamentary System

  • Executive

    • Power to make decisions and administer through civil service

  • Legislative

    • Power to make laws

  • Judicial

    • Power to interpret and administer the law

    • Carried out by judiciary (judges & courts)

The federal government
The Federal Government

  • Legislative Branch

    • comprised of

      • Governor General

      • House of Commons

      • Senate

    • Parliament must meet once a year (session)

    • Passes, amends, repeals laws – debates

    • Question periods

House of commons
House of Commons

  • Elected Members of Parliament (MPs)

  • Elections every 5 years

  • Canada divided into ridings (constituencies of approx 100,000 people each)

  • Population decides number of seats

  • Speaker of the House controls debates

  • Members sit with parties

  • Ruling party on one side; opposition on other

  • Opposition scrutinizes actions of govt

House of commons lower house
House of Commons (Lower House)

How do mps vote
How do MPs vote?

  • Elected representatives of each party hold private meetings called caucus

  • Discuss, argue freely

  • Leader explains party policy, programmes, actions

  • Once decision is made, tradition holds that members will vote in favour of party’s position

  • Free vote – allows members to vote according to what they believe is best

The senate upper house
The Senate (Upper House)

  • Independent of House of Commons

  • Appoints own Speaker

  • Governor General appoints Senators on recommendation of PM

    • Canadian citizens

    • At least 30 years old

    • Living in province they represent

    • Own at least $4000 worth of property

The senate upper house1
The Senate (Upper House)

  • Main role to provide final check on legislation passed in Lower House

  • Senate may also introduce bills

  • Regional representation – by population

  • Appointments based on patronage

    • Some believe Senate represents upper income groups and party interests

The executive branch
The Executive Branch

  • Consists of

    • Governor general

    • Prime Minister

    • Cabinet

    • Civil Service

  • Governor General

    • Monarch’s representative

    • Gives formal assent to bill before it becomes law

    • Ceremonial function

    • Advisor to the govt

The prime minister
The Prime Minister

  • Leader of party with most elected members of the House of Commons is invited to become Prime Minister by Governor General

  • Head of Government

    • Ask Gov Gen to name new judges

    • Best time to ask Gov Gen to call election

    • Chooses & shuffles Cabinet

    • Addresses Canadians on issues of national concern

    • Explains goals of ruling party (party leader)

    • Represents Canada internationally

    • Works with Premiers

    • Patronage appointments – Senate, diplomatic corps

The cabinet
The Cabinet

  • Elected party members chosen by PM

  • Each cabinet minister is responsible for a particular govt dept

  • Reflects nation

    • Gender

    • Ethnicity

    • Cultural, social and linguistic diversity

  • Free opinions in Cabinet meetings but Cabinet Solidarity publicly (party whip to ensure solidarity and attendance for voting)

The public service
The Public Service

  • Civil service/bureaucracy

  • Permanent employees doing govt business

  • The face of govt

  • Duties

    • Gather stats

    • Write details for new laws

    • Represent Canada abroad

    • Carry out laws

    • Collect taxes

    • Monitor imports & exports

    • Process passports

    • Deliver mail

    • Advise ministers

    • Draft laws

Provincial territorial governments
Provincial/Territorial Governments

  • 3 branches

    • Executive

    • Legislative

    • Judicial

  • Premier is leader of government

  • Lieutenant Governor represents Monarch

  • One house (Legislature; National Assembly in Quebec)

    • MLA or MPP


  • Provincial curriculum

  • Local School Boards

  • Regulate teachers


  • Policies and laws about how resources are managed

  • Balance current demand plus future use – sustainability

Health care social welfare
Health Care & Social Welfare

  • Shared with federal govt

  • How to provide care

  • Hospitals, testing, long term care

  • Aging population

    • Require more health services

    • Preventative care

    • 2 tier?

  • Social welfare

    • Disabled

    • Single mothers


  • Urban transit

  • Develop railways, ports, highways and airports

Negotiating with the federal govt
Negotiating with the Federal Govt

  • Equalization and transfer payments

  • Work constantly to redefine balance of power

  • Disputes resolved through Supreme Court of Canada

Local governments
Local Governments

  • Town council

  • Elected officials - councillors

  • Leader – Mayor

  • Bylaws

Aboriginal self government
Aboriginal Self-Government

  • Band councils or elders

  • Leader – Chief

  • Negotiate with Federal and Provincial govt